04/17/2008 11:00PM

Letters to the Editor


Fasig-Tipton sale lends opportunity for business reform

I read with great curiosity about the purchase of the Fasig-Tipton by a Dubai-based investment company with close ties to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum ("Dubai company buys Fasig-Tipton," Aprilo12).

On one hand, it has become commonplace in America for Dubai-based companies to purchase some of our most venerable assets. Ports, toll highways, landmark real estate, and large financial institutions are all being purchased with Middle Eastern oil money. On the other hand, two particular issues may emerge from this new acquisition.

First, I am eager to see the impact this will have on the Keeneland sales company, both in terms of competition and in the Maktoum resources that may now flow away from Keeneland. Second, I now see a ray of hope for a more definitive sales-integrity plan to be established by owners who have always prided themselves on operating at the very pinnacle of the sport.

The impact on Keeneland may come down to supply and demand, but the integrity matter is surely a question of desire. If the new Fasig-Tipton ownership is intent on rooting out the deception and larceny that can plague Thoroughbred auctions, it will endeavor to put policies in place that will secure greater trust in the process. Stringent drug policies, announced reserves, bidder identification, and harsh penalties for dual agents would be a great start.

Anthony J. Perrotta, Jr. - Red Bank, N.J.

Keeneland decline isn't hard to figure

It's not rocket science why the handle at this spring's Keeneland meet is off ("Handle is down 17 percent," April 18). There are three reasons, and three only:

1. The economy.

2. Polytrack. I am sorry, but I am not alone among bettors in disliking the surface. I consider myself a professional handicapper, and I cannot figure out Polytrack. I hear many gamblers say it you can't get a feel for it, you can't bet with confidence. The results are biased, and some horses are at a terrible disadvantage. How can you put hard-earned money down on horses who have to come from last to win?

I realize it may be safer - then have horses train on it and bring back racing on dirt. I refuse to make any large plays on Polytrack when I can find a speed horse going from Polytrack to dirt.

3. This is the biggest: the failure of the track and some account-wagering services to come to terms over the signal. I am sorry, but I have bet through twinspires.com for some time now. As an Ohio resident, though, I can't use it to bet Keeneland. I live 25 miles away from my local racetrack - why spend all that gas money? I just bet what is available at home. I guarantee you this is happening everywhere. Racetrack people are being very naive if they think this is not killing their handle. Why can't these people get together and get this worked out?

Dan Cronin - Cincinnati

Synthetic surface hurts in real way

The name of the racing surface at Keeneland should be changed from Polytrack to Polyfarce. The Blue Grass Stakes, which has traditionally been one of the leading Kentucky Derby preps, has been relegated to a meaningless race that yields inscrutable results. Indeed, racing over the Polyfarce more often resembles a slow procession than it does a race.

I fully realize that since the principals at Keeneland have a significant monetary interest in promoting the surface, it is not likely to be changed any time soon. But until they do scrap the synthetic surface, horseplayers would be better off wagering their Keeneland dollars at a jai alai fronton.

Jennifer Walsh - Jericho, N.Y.

Las Cienegas incident just part of the game

The disqualification of Bahama Mama in last Sunday's Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita was a total injustice.

Santa Anita's 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course is an obstacle course. It starts turning right, then comes off the grass and across a main track that is now filled with fibers and wax. How plausible is it to maintain a perfectly straight course on such a turn? Do jockeys have no clue that an incident might occur? This happens every day around the world, intentionally or unintentionally. It's the nature of the game, one of the fortunes of war, race-riding, etc. Had there been no incident, Lightmyfirebaby still wouldn't have caught Bahama Mama.

Watch the tape of the ultimate: Codex, with Angel Cordero Jr. steering, taking out Genuine Risk in the 1980 Preakness.

Vic Bulaich - Inglewood, Calif.

Trainer's infraction has lingering effect

As a horseman and handicapper, I was deeply offended when I read, in "After reality check, Leparoux in comfort zone" (April 4), the name of trainer Patrick Biancone.

This is a man who was banned for life in Hong Kong, perhaps the racing capital of the world. After that, he was welcomed here with open arms. No wonder people are skeptical about racing. Based on his history, and the presence of cobra venom in his barn ("Biancone agrees to a softer ban," Oct. 20), he should be banned for life - his license revoked, not suspended.

And isn't it interesting that a rider's numbers declined at the same time his main man went on an enforced vacation?

Curt Jarvis - Buffalo, N.Y.